WGAAA Baseball Skill/Coaching Manual

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1 WGAAA Baseball Skill/Coaching Manual All baseball players regardless of age should have a base knowledge and capability of proper baseball mechanics. If a team is mechanically sound, more often than not, that team will be successful. Our goal as youth baseball coaches should not be to win every game at all costs. Our goal should be to teach our baseball players how to become better baseball players and to prepare our young players to play at a higher level. We should be focused on the basics of baseball at every level beginning at t-ball and progressing through coach pitch; Minors(9-10) and majors( 11-12), with our ultimate goal being that our ball players are the most fundamentally sound and as close to technically perfect as we can make them. If we can successfully prepare our young baseball players now, our high school programs can be dominate for many years and we can prepare our players for a future beyond youth baseball. There are three main factors in baseball: pitching (throwing), fielding and running. All three aspects are equally important and should all receive equal amounts of attention. This manual is designed to help coaches teach proper mechanics in all three aspects, and will have instructions for all three. It will also have age appropriate drills and teaching techniques, which will allow our program to have some continuity throughout all divisions. All of the drills and progressions in this program have been tried and tested at the high school and college levels. The coaches, from who these drills are being taken from, have played and/coached, at higher levels of baseball.

2 Throwing Mechanics/progressions- Proper throwing mechanics can be taught very easily. This works by breaking down each step through proper throwing progressions that must be done every single practice and game before any other baseball drills are done. Step 1: Have the ball players pair up and sit on one knee no more than 5 feet apart. Make sure that the ball player s glove knees are the knees that are up and their throwing side knee is on the ground. Step 2: Ball players separate their hands with the ball in their throwing hand. Coaches need to make sure that both hands are as far apart as possible (Spreading the chest) and that the ball is above the player s hat. The player s glove fingers are pointed up, and the thumb of the hand with the ball is pointed directly back away from the head of the player. The elbow of the arm with the ball is slightly bent. Step 3: Players twist their upper body, bring their glove into their chest pulling their chest down towards their front knee. Step 4: Players release the ball out in front of their hat even with the brim of their hat, making sure to follow through after the throw, with their chest down to their front knee. Step 5: After the players throw back and forth from their knees 5-10 times; stand the players up on both feet and back them up to between 8 and 10 feet apart. Step 6: Players now stand sideways with their feet spread a little more than shoulder width apart with the toe on their front foot pointed towards their target (right handed faces right, left handed faces left)

3 Step 7: Now repeat steps 2-4 from their feet in this spread position while also pushing off the back foot. Coaches must make sure that each player follows through after their throw with their chest towards their front knee, and their back foot coming even with their front foot after the throw. Step 8: After 5-10 throws in this position coaches introduce the Crane Position. Coaches now have the players lift their front knee as high as they can and hold there for at least 3 seconds. It is very important for the players to be balanced and to be able to hold this balanced position. Once the players hold the balanced position they fall forward into the spread feet position described in step 6. Step 9: After 5-10 throws from the crane position the players should be warmed up enough to continue with throwing from progressively further distances. *It is important that coaches do not sacrifice proper throwing mechanics for arm strength at this age. Coaches need to constantly walk by every player and make sure he or she is mechanically correct. If a distance is reached where proper mechanics are compromised the players should be brought back to a shorter distance and made to throw correctly.* Pitching Despite popular belief, pitching at a youth baseball level is not a difficult thing to teach. Taking similar steps from the throwing progressions, coaches can tweak a few things and teach anyone to pitch with proper mechanics. *Have the players pitch from the stretch position. This mimics steps from the throwing progressions, so players already know many of the basic positions and moves.* Step 1: Players start with their feet a little more than shoulder width apart. Step 2: once the players have established themselves on the mound, they now bring their front foot towards their back foot leaving their feet about 1.5 feet apart. The players also bring their hands together in front of their belt line. Step 3: Once the players have paused and established themselves in the Set position they move into the crane position (discussed in step 9 of throwing progressions). Step 4: The player holds the knee up in the crane position, and spreads their chest (step 2 in throwing progressions)

4 Step 5: Once in this crane with the chest spread position, the player leads with his/her hip towards home plate. Step 6: The player falls towards home plate leading with the hip and keeps his/her front foot in the air as long as possible. Once the player feels like they cannot keep their front foot off the ground, he/she pushes with their back foot extending their stride as far as they can. Step 7: As the front foot is begging to land, the player continues with steps 3 and for in the throwing progressions, twisting their upper body pulling their glove hand to their chest, bringing the ball towards home plate from above the hat, and releasing the ball as close to even with the brim of the hat as they can following through with their chest down to their front knee. Step 8: After the player releases the ball, he/she needs to make sure they allow their back leg to come forward. *if their stride is done correctly, their back foot should generate enough force and follow through almost on its own. Pitching Steps 1: Set Position 2: Crane Position

5 3: Hip Drive 4: Release and chest down 5: Follow Through 6: Finish Pitch

6 Fielding Other than pitching, properly fielding a ground ball and catching a ball in the air are the most important defensive aspects of baseball. Proper fielding mechanics will make receiving a ground ball much easier. Fielding Positioning: once the ball is approaching the player the player moves towards the ball. It is important for the player to attack the baseball and approach it aggressively. Once the ball is between 5 and 10 feet from the player, he/she breaks down to the ball. Break down position : The break down position consists of the player bending at the knees (not at the back) and placing their hands in front of them. The back of their glove should be flat on the ground and their bare hand should be about a foot above their glove. Once the ball enters the glove, the fielder brings the ball, bare hand and glove together up towards their chest keeping their eyes down on the ball and glove. The player then, shuffles his or her feet towards their intended target. No more than one or two shuffle steps should be taken. While in their shuffle the player takes the ball out of their glove and prepares to throw towards their target. After the shuffle steps the player throws towards their target and their momentum should continue to take them in the direction of their throw. Fielding Steps: Approach ball Break down bring ball to chest

7 Shuffle Throw

8 Batting The most important offensive aspect of baseball is hitting. There are three main aspects to hitting: a solid balanced stance; a strong and balanced load and swing, and a balanced follow through. Stance: The players should grip the bats loosely. The knocking knuckles of both hands should be lined up in a straight line down the bat. The players batting stance should be comfortable. He/she should have their feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Their hands should be up and back with their bottom hand level with their ear. Neither elbow should be higher than the players shoulders. Knees should be slightly bent. The players eyes should be focused on the pitcher. Feet should be square to home plate. Load and swing: When the batter has established a balanced and comfortable stance and the pitcher begins his/her delivery the batter begins to load his/her swing. The batter waits until the pitcher separates their hands ready to deliver the ball. Once the pitcher separates their hands, the batter shifts his/her weight slightly backwards and raises his/her hands a little higher and slightly back more towards the catcher. After the swing is loaded and the player has decided to swing at the ball, the player pulls his/her front elbow towards their front hip. Then the player twists their hips so that their back foot is forced to turn. Finally the player throws the bottom hand towards the direction of the ball, allowing both wrists to turn over making the bottom palm face up and the top palm face down. Follow through: the follow through will insure that the batter is balanced and is getting the most power out of their swing. After contact with the ball the batters wrists should continue to roll over and the bat should follow through to the opposite shoulder. The batters hips should be facing the pitcher and the batter should be balanced with their front leg straight, their back knee bent and their back foot turned towards the pitcher. Batting steps:

9 Stance: Load: Swing: Follow through:

10

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